Earth-observing satellite to launch from Calif. (Update)

Feb 08, 2013 by Alicia Chang
This artist rendering released by NASA shows the Landsat satellite in orbit around Earth. The satellite is slated to launch Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. It's the eighth satellite in a program that began in 1972. (AP Photo/NASA)

A new Earth-observing satellite is set to provide another watchful eye over our planet's glaciers, forests, water resources and urban sprawl.

If all goes as planned, the Landsat satellite will be launched into orbit Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

It would be the eighth such satellite in a series designed to continuously track natural changes and society's influence on Earth's resources.

Since the maiden launch in 1972, the satellites have been providing "uninterrupted observations," David Jarrett, program executive at NASA headquarters, said during a pre-launch news conference on Friday.

During the past 40 years, the Landsat satellites have been key in documenting changes to the Earth, pinpointing where droughts are occurring, how crops across the globe are faring and how erosion is affecting coastlines.

The satellites also have recorded retreating glaciers in Greenland, captured the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption and recovery aftermath, tracked population growth in Phoenix and deforestation in the Amazon.

Although NASA aimed for a Monday liftoff, launch director Omar Baez said there were two remaining engineering issues to complete. It was too early to know whether that would affect the launch schedule, he said.

The newest Landsat will be the most powerful yet. Once in orbit, it will circle Earth 14 times a day.

It was expected to beam back 400 images a day to ground stations in South Dakota, Alaska and Norway. As in previous missions, the images will be freely available on the Internet.

The $855 million project is managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The space agency developed the satellite and its two sensors, which are more sensitive than previous ones. After a checkout period in orbit, day-to-day duties will be turned over to the USGS.

The latest Landsat will build on past missions. The USGS recently retired Landsat 5, which operated since 1984 and has returned 2 1/2 million images. Landsat 7, launched in 1999, continues to operate.

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VendicarE
4 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2013
Hopefully, Republican Sabotage won't be able to blow this one up.
Egleton
5 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2013
It is a sad reflection of the USA's decline and fall that a single satellite launch is newsworthy.
You might have colonized Lagrange 4 and 5 and be well on your way to certain survival, but you chose to waste the nations wealth bombing some rice farmers in Vietnam.
Oh. And the rice farmers wupped your hide.

I see that you still are sucked in by well orchestrated propaganda and elect Corporate Shills.
That's not fair. You were given a choice of two Shills.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2013
You can't really blame Americans. They are fed a not stop stream of Capitalist drivel from cradle to grave, that turns them into cattle, programmed to spend their cattle feed on trinkets sold to them by their farmer/owners.

Americans are a corporate crop, much like domesticated corn or sheep.